Saturday, January 25, 2014
A month or two ago, I was contacted by Rizzi at Arctic Chill to review their muddler. Since I already have way too many muddlers between my own purchases and swag at various events, I offered the suggestion that I review their ice ball maker instead. I was curious what their product could offer for I was a bit frustrated with my current ice ball maker, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) ice tray set (the pink device in the photos below) that I purchased cerca 2009 or 2010. One problem with it is that its hard plastic does not bend so it is hard to eject the ice ball; prying it out with a bar spoon or running how water on the outside to loosen things up seems to work. The hard plastic also makes me worry that it will shatter when separating the halves. The other problem with the MoMA one is due to the inherent nature of water freezing into ice -- namely that ice expands 10% from the water volume during freezing. This expansion leads to the top half of the tray lifting up and forming a ridge of ice around the equator of each ball. This ice has to be trimmed away through percussion with the back of the spoon or with hot water from a faucet. I definitely wanted to see if technology had improved.
Some time after that, she took me up on the suggestion and sent me a four pack for review purposes. Arctic Chill's product is made from BPA-free silicone so it seemed like that would solve the hard plastic issue for mold separation and ball ejection that I experience with MoMA's. But how would it work with water expansion during freezing and how easy would it be to free the ice ball from the mold? To answer this, I made a pair of ice balls using both the MoMA and the Arctic Chill molds. While MoMA requires the bottom tray to be filled up and the top to be lowered over it until all air is expressed, the Arctic Chill ones can be filled from the top hole (submersion in a bowl of water would work too). No leakage was noted during filling of the Arctic Chill. Possibly the Arctic Chill ball's water fill could be calibrated to allow for some expansion during freezing. The MoMA method makes this partial fill a bit more challenging but not impossible to try this out. One commenter to the post suggested "plac[ing] a weight, like an ice pack, on the top prior to freezing" to reduce the lifting up aspect of the MoMA molds, although the only place for the expansion to occur is out the small hole at the top.
After freezing, the MoMA separated more on one side which caused one of the two balls to have a crater on top. The separation also formed a thick ridge that needed a bit of effort to clean up on both balls; it was still evident after a bit of chipping (hard to make out in the last photo due to color contrast, but it is the 1/8-1/4 inch ridge that runs from 11 to 5 o'clock on the left ice ball). When put in a drink, the remnants of the ridge do go away over time. One of the two Arctic Chill balls separated more than the other; the less separated one seemed to have bled the excess out the top instead. Both Arctic Chill ice balls were easy to clean up since there was only a thin ridge at the mold half intersection; however, a nipple from the mold's fill hole remained though. As for removing the balls, the MoMA ones still had the problems associated with hard plastic and required a short time under the hot water tap. The Arctic Chill ones came free with only a minimal degree of effort; they were slightly adhered to the mold but did not require heat or tools to free them.
Overall, the Arctic Chill ball molds were quite nice, and I experienced little frustration with them. They did produce a more attractive and less labor intensive 2 1/2 inch ice sphere than my old set. I do not know how they compare to say Tovolo's model, but I am guessing that they are pretty comparable. On Amazon, a set of four ice ball molds sells for $24.95. Indeed, they will definitely be replacing my old set.